Beard's late 3 lifts FIU over Florida Gulf Coast

Panthers off to best start in school history

Florida International's Brian Beard Jr. shoots a basket against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in Fort Myers, Florida, Nov. 28, 2018. (Courtesy of FlU)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Brian Beard Jr. made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.1 seconds left and scored 21 points to help Florida International rally past Florida Gulf Coast 81-80 on Wednesday night.

Trailing by eight at halftime, FIU scored 10 straight to take a 52-45 lead on Devon Andrews' free throw and led by as many as 10 points before the Eagles closed to 78-76 on Haanif Cheatham's free throw with 1:11 to play. Raysean Scott Jr. hit a 3 and Cheatham added a free throw for an 80-78 Eagles' lead with 27 seconds left before Beard hit his 3 and the Eagles missed a shot before time expired.

Devon Andrews scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Panthers (7-1), who made 12 of 31 3-pointers and scored 20 points off of 19 FGCU turnovers. Beard and Willy Nunez Jr. had four 3s apiece and Nunez added 14 points for FIU.

Brady Ernst scored 15 points and Scott had 12 with 14 rebounds for FGCU (2-7), which won the rebound battle 46-29. Cheatham and Dinero Mercurius scored 14 apiece.

The Panthers have won four in a row and are off to their best start in school history under first-year head coach Jeremy Ballard. They'll next travel to Arkansas on Saturday to take on the Razorbacks.